Simon Coleman is a young, newly hired ornithology professor at a small college. He’s also into cryptozoology expert (those who try to prove mythical creatures exist), and he’s fascinated by the ancient Thunderbird, a creature of Native American lore. In fact, Simon’s whole family has thrown their lives into the search. His grandfather and father sacrificed their professional reputations and became laughingstocks.
Simon begins to notice some odd things going on around campus and one day, the dean calls Simon into his office, introduces him to a handsome grad student, Ford Whitney, and tells him Ford will be his new teaching assistant. Finally, the dean tells Simon he’s not to go anywhere without Ford…an interesting (and not so welcome) request.
Ford works part time as a barista while he’s going to college. He also takes his new assignment to protect Simon very seriously. Of course, he’s keeping a secret from Simon…two secrets in fact. This college is often referred to as Shifter U because most of the students are shifters of some sort. Also, he’s a shifter…a very special shifter. However, when dangerous things start to happen to Simon, Ford is going to have to decide whether to reveal himself to Simon, or keep to his true nature to save him.
I chose Chasing Thunderbird because I myself am interested in cryptozoology. I am not ashamed to say I believe Bigfoot exists, and there are other unexplainable things out there in the world that just haven’t been discovered. Also, I’m a big fan of the California condor, and thanks to an awesome keeper at the zoo, I learned they are a part of the Thunderbird legend. But I digress. Suffice to say, I thought this would be an interesting departure from a traditional romance. I wasn’t disappointed.
Obviously, I liked the premise of the story, and the author clearly did a lot of research into the history of the Thunderbird myth, rather than just making up something for the story’s sake. This added what I would say is an almost sort of reality. Along with that, Simon and Ford were well fleshed out and interesting. Simon, the young genius, wants to be a good professor and to belong on campus. Sure, things were a little weird, but he tried not to let it bother him. He kept copious notes in journals, both from bird watching and about the Thunderbird. Simon is a sweet nerd, and I liked him immediately. He was a fish out of water (or a bird out of the nest?), but he was trying to take it in stride. Also, he loved his family and wanted to save their reputations. Loyalty is an admirable quality for an MC to have. Ford was the strong silent type. Serious, but sexy, he wanted to do the right thing by Simon and the college. He was also a hard worker, holding up a job as a barista at a campus café. Once again, the character’s loyalty made me love him as much as I did Simon.
Without giving away too much of the story, I was pleased to see how Simon and Ford began to fall for each other right alongside the mystery of what/who was trying to hurt Simon. It leant a sort of reality to the book. Also, even though it’s not a very long book, their fall wasn’t too quick and easy. Their attraction was immediate, but because so many other things were going on in their lives, they were left with flirtation and Ford’s protective streak.
I thought the mystery part of Chasing Thunderbird was nicely written. From the beginning, it was fairly obvious what the motive behind Simon’s problems was, but I liked how it turn an unexpected turn. I would have never guessed it, and this was something I was quite impressed with. I’m actually dying to tell you every single detail of what happened, but I think it’s something you should read for yourself to fully appreciate it. I’ll let you know it definitely kept my interested and on the edge of my seat.
There really aren’t a lot of background characters. Simon’s grandfather played a small (but important) role. A man named Matthew kept turning up on Simon’s doorstep soon after he arrived. He’s strange, but he seems harmless. Ford’s friend Donnie was fun and a bit of comic relief. Each of these characters are necessary to the story, but didn’t get in the way of what was going on with the mystery.
There is some tension toward the end of the book, as well as a bit of action. It was just enough to hold my interest and lead to the big confrontation and solution of the mystery. Ford’s revelation to Simon was great for the simple fact that Simon didn’t completely freak out. In fact, when things began to settle down, he and Ford do something absolutely wonderful, and it warmed my heart.
I was completely satisfied with the end of Chasing Thunderbird. It was a little on the predictable side, but the rest of the story was so well done, I appreciated it for what it was…the nicely tied up HEA I had both wanted and needed. I am completely comfortable in recommending this book, especially to shifter fans, mystery fans, and fans of the paranormal.
PS…When you think about it, the name Ford is perfect (and amusing) for him. 😉
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.